TPU Petroleum Learning Center celebrates 20th Anniversary


A joint project of Tomsk Polytechnic University and Heriot-Watt University combines high-quality petroleum education, geosciences and real-world oil and gas projects.

The Petroleum Learning Center was established at Tomsk Polytechnic University in 2001. It was one of the first endeavours for Heriot-Watt University in global expansion and became the first institution in Russia to train petroleum-engineering specialists according to international standards.

The first students of the Petroleum Engineering Master’s Degree course commenced studies on October 1, 2001. Since 2003, the Petroleum Learning Center has been providing another Masters’ Degree course in Reservoir Evaluation and Management. In 2006, the paired degrees course of TPU and Heriot-Watt gained traction.

“At the time of opening and up until now, all the aspects of teaching: course content, study materials, qualification requirements for tutors have been the same in Tomsk and Edinburgh, the home city of Heriot-Watt. Over 1,100 graduates completed their studies at the Petroleum Learning Center and obtained degrees from Heriot-Watt University. Among them are top managers and executives of leading Russian energy companies, many of the graduates work abroad,”  said Valery Rukavishnikov, Head of the Petroleum Learning Center.

Annually, the Petroleum Learning Center holds about 20 open events related to petroleum engineering and geosciences. One of the flagship projects is the OilCase championship, where more than 3,000 students and young professionals tackled various case study problems related to hydrocarbon exploration and oil field development. The championship has been held annually since 2018, and currently is the largest event of such kind in Russia.

The PLC experts also designed a free online course on the fundamentals of petroleum engineering, with over 6,000 participants from across 35 countries. At the moment, the MOOC is available in English on Coursera. The Petroleum Learning Center is home to the local Society of Petroleum Engineers and European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers chapters.

The experts and academics of the Petroleum Learning Center maintain close ties with the petroleum industry in Russia. They not only provide training and further development courses to employees of more than 50 companies but also conduct various research and development projects. These include oil field development and hydrocarbon prospects estimation, geochemical and core analysis, big data processing and predictive analytics related to petroleum engineering. Since 2003, over 200 projects of various complexity have been completed.

“The most important is that the cooperation between Tomsk Polytechnic University and Heriot-Watt University resulted in the creation of a unique place where students, academic staff and industry experts share the same values and work in a team. The ongoing efforts of two world-renowned institutions make a significant contribution to shaping the next generation of the professional community in Russia ready for rapid change and evolvement,” said Valery Rukavishnikov, Head of the Petroleum Learning Center.